Some pets need more patience, more love, more understanding. And there are some special people who can provide that for them.
Ayame is one of those pets and her mom is one of those people.
Ayame is a painfully shy kitty, but she is coming out of her shell thanks to the woman who took a chance and adopted her. Their journey is documented on the Instagram page @ayameshadowcat.
Ayame was a stray cat living on the streets when she was picked up and taken to a high kill shelter. Ayame had recently given birth and her kittens were taken to the shelter with her. All of her kittens were adopted, but Ayame wasn’t so lucky. She had three things working against her: she was a bit older; she was a black cat, which are often overlooked; and she wasn’t very sociable. She was put the kill-list.
Then, 24 hours before she was scheduled to be euthanized, her luck changed. The scared kitty was rescued by Anjellicle Cats Rescue in New York and placed with a foster family. In February 2016, she was taken in by Paws Crossed Central in Amherst, Massachusetts. Four months later she met the woman who would become her mom.
“I needed her as much as she needed me,” Ayame’s mom, who requested that her name not be published, told Petcha.com.
Ayame’s mom had been moving around a lot, and she lives far away from her family. She “was desperate for something constant.” She needed a loyal companion.
“And that’s when Ayame came into my life,” she said.
Paws Crossed allowed her to “foster to adopt,” which meant she could spend time with Ayame, named after the Japanese word for iris, before deciding whether to adopt the cat.
“For the first few days, Ayame barely came out of underneath my bed. She was scared of everything,” she said. “After a few weeks however, she started to show small signs of affection: cuddling in my empty bed, sitting just out of my reach, and blinking at me. I knew at this point, that she was capable of love and that I didn’t want her to bounce around in different homes.”
May marks their one-year “adoptaversary,” and Ayame has come a long way. She now comes for food, lets her mom pet her when she eats, stays put when her mom gets close to her, and exchanges many blinks throughout the day. But it hasn’t always been easy.
“With her, it’s always two steps forwards, one step back,” he owner said.
To help Ayame gain confidence and feel more comfortable, her mom engages her in daily training sessions. For example, she won’t give Ayame wet cat food, Ayame’s favorite, unless the shy kitty will come to her to get it.
“I usually sit in front of the bowl, and when she comes over I carefully pet her,” she told Petcha. “This has allowed her to become more comfortable with being petted and being close to me.”
She also will put Ayame in a smaller room with her, which makes it easier for them to interact with each other, and she sprays cat pheromones around the house.
Recently they hit a major milestone. Ayame let her mom pet and comfort her while at the veterinarian’s office!
“She stopped crying when I did it, and I was shocked by how much she seemed to trust me,” she said.
Other milestones include: Ayame coming out to see her mom off in the morning and voluntarily approaching her to sniff her hand.
“They may seem very small, but it makes my day,” she said.
It’s not that Ayame doesn’t show affection, she just does it in her way.
“She pretends like she doesn’t care about me, but runs towards the door right after I close it,” her mom said. “I know this because I’ve opened the door right after I close it and I’ve seen her sitting right by the door multiple times.”
Despite her shyness, Ayame is an active cat with a penchant for attacking toy mice and ping pong balls — not surprising since she probably had to hone those hunting skills as a stray.
“She also climbs up and down her cat tree as if to show off,” her owner said. “But she get’s scared when I try to play with her using a fishing rod toy.”
Shy cats definitely have their challenges.
“The process of socializing a cat can be incredibly frustrating and disappointing, especially when they regress back into a shy behavior,” Ayame’s mom said. “You also have to prepared for them to never completely come out of her shell.”
But sharing your life with one can be so very rewarding.
“When you see the difference you’ve made to their lives, it feels worth it,” she said. “Most people don’t want shy cats, and you may be their only chance at a forever home.”